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Commission puts the squeeze on juice industry

Commission puts the squeeze on juice industry

Following two successful prosecutions against Rio Beverages Limited and Double-R Soft Drinks Limited last year, the Commerce Commission is continuing to put the squeeze on the marketing practices of fruit juice companies.

Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that following the investigation of eleven companies in the juice industry, the Commission will prosecute two companies, and enter into a settlement with a third.

The Commission will prosecute Brownlie Brothers in relation to its Simply Squeezed and Supreme Orange Juice products, and Freshly Squeezed for its Arano product.

“In the Commission’s view, both cases involved misleading representations relating to the freshness, content and origin of the juice. Consumers may have been misled into believing that the products were 100% freshly squeezed New Zealand orange juice when both contained quantities of imported concentrate,” she said.

The Commission will offer a settlement to Progressive Enterprises Limited in relation to alleged misleading labelling on its OrgaNicZ brand orange juice, which gives the impression the product comprises 100% New Zealand orange juice, when it contains only imported organically certified orange concentrate.

“The settlement will include, among other things, Progressive Enterprises agreeing to organise an industry-wide compliance seminar,” Ms Battell said.

The Commission will also issue a warning to Charlie’s Trading Company Limited that, in the Commission’s view, its overall campaign was likely to mislead consumers into believing that its juices were fresh when they had in fact been highly pasteurised and had a shelf life of at least six months.

“The Commission was also concerned that consumers may have been led to believe that the product was made in New Zealand when it was manufactured in Australia.”

In addition, the Commission will seek undertakings from four companies to change labelling and website content.

Ms Battell said that the Commission’s guidelines relating to juice labelling had been in place for more than seven years and were adopted by the industry self-regulating body.

“Members of the Juice Association should be well aware of their responsibilities under the Fair Trading Act,” she said.

“The Commission will now look at developing the guidelines further, and is keen to work with members of the juice association to improve compliance with the Act.

“We will continue to monitor the industry – and the wider food industry. The Commission will take action where misleading representations are made about the nature of food and beverage products for competitive advantage,” Ms Battell added.

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